At 1.30 am on 5 February 1982, the body of Dr Neil Aggett, a trades union organizer, was found hanging against the grille of his cell at John Vorster Square police headquarters.
The Aggett inquest became, not a state investigation into the circumstances surrounding Dr Aggett’s death, but a prolonged battle by lawyers acting for the Aggett family to get at the truth in the face o f obstruction from state officials. The investigation into Dr Aggett’s death took place in spite o f the efforts o f the state, not as a result o f them, calling into question the impartiality o f the state’s legal officers.
This is the background to the following publication which attempts to document conditions now being encountered by South Africa’s political detainees. These conditions have been the major anxiety of the Detainees’ Parents Support Committee (DPSC), which was formed after the wave of detentions that took place in November 1981 when, on the 26th of that month, Dr Aggett was arrested under the Internal Security Act.
The South African government claims that its system o f detention, codified in its most recent form as the 1982 Internal Security A ct, operates in defense o f Western civilization and Christian values. In making these documents available to a wider audience the organizations sponsoring this publication do so in protest against what is being done in the name o f these values, and in tribute to the courageous work of the Detainees’ Parents Support Committee (DPSC) in upholding them in the midst of apartheid.
The document contains a Memorandum on Security police abuses of political detainees by the DPSC, an affidavit by Auret Van Heerden, a statement of Alexander Mbatha and four appendices.
South Africa-torture-thematic report-1982-eng (full text in English, PDF)ReportsThematic reports